Shares in €35 billion French construction firm Vinci briefly crashed almost 20% late on Tuesday after a fake press release claimed that company had sacked its chief financial officer and mis-stated its results.
Just after 4.00 p.m. Paris time (3.00 p.m. ET) a press release claiming to be from Vinci said that CFO Christian Labeyrie had been removed from his position, and that the company would restate profits from 2015, and the first half of this year.
That happened after an internal audit found accounting irregularities, the fake press release said. The release also said that the company had informed France’s financial regulator, Autorité des Marchés Financiers.
Net losses were booked for both periods, the hoax said, amounting to a total of €3.5 billion.
Vinci’s stock promptly crashed, dropping off a cliff in reaction to news that, if real, would have been a massive issue for the company.
Just 24 minutes later, Vinci’s real press team released an official statement, denying all the content of the hoax release, and saying that it had been sent by a fake member of communications team.
“A fake press release was published today by Bloomberg at 4.05 PM. VINCI denies formally all the information contained in this fake press release and is investigating all legal actions in furtherance thereof,” a statement on the firm’s website said.
“Vinci officially denies the dismissal of Christian Labeyrie. We express our indignation towards such practices and inform that the group and Christian Labeyrie will file a complaint against the persons responsible for these acts,” the statement released on Tuesday said.
“This is false, totally false. We deny it,” a Vinci spokesman told the BBC.
Shares in Vinci quickly recovered, although still booked a loss for the day, ending trade down roughly 3%. Here’s the chart showing Vinci’s rollercoaster afternoon:
On Wednesday, shares have continued their recovery, climbing around 1.5% as of 8.45 a.m. GMT.
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